Sunday, September 4, 2011
In one month I will be "hearth breads and rolls" class in school (my first bread class) and I can hardly wait!
Ever since I learned how to make wheat bread from scratch with the Carlins in fifth grade I've been hooked.
Well, quite honestly my sister, mom, dad, aunts, etc. not only love bread but we all have a sweet tooth (hence the pastry chef thing...it was only a matter of time before one of us went over to the dark side.)
We've just touched the tip of the iceberg regarding bread at school thus far; mostly the composition of flour and how the proteins in flour combined with water form gluten and provide the structure for bread (give me a break, I'm a freshman remember).
However, I have discovered that making great artisanal bread at home is quite a different beast than making it in a bakeshop due to the sheer lack in proper equipment (i.e. no hearth)
I know that there are many methods out there for home bakers which I have yet to try and I'll certainly get around to testing those out in the coming months; I'm thinking about Chad Robertson's book Tartine Bread (a CIA grad of course!)
He and his wife have a fabulous bakery called Tartine in San Francisco.
Until then, I've been testing some of the options from my health food store favorites.
Bob's Red Mill creates a huge variety of products and this bread is not only easy and delicious but healthy for you too since it is made entirely of whole grain flour (which is why the vital wheat gluten is necessary...do not omit or your bread will not rise properly.)
Honey Oatmeal Bread
Ever so slightly adapted from Bob's Red Mill
->4-1/2 to 4-3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
->2 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
->2 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
->2 cups Milk
->1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp Honey
->1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
->1 Tbsp Sea Salt
->1/2 cup Scottish Oatmeal
1. Combine 2 cups of the flour and salt; set aside.
2. Heat milk, honey, oil until just till warm (115 degrees). Add yeast t milk and make sure that it foams (to ensure that your yeast are alive) and then add to dry mixture in mixing bowl. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 30 seconds....stop, drop and scrap the sides of bowl. Then beat 3 minutes at high speed.
3. By hand, stir in oats, gluten and enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough.
Here is where the workout begins...
4. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). Keep turning your dough as you knead so that your gluten strands develop evenly. Shape in a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let rise in a warm, draft free place until double in size (it takes roughly 45 minutes).
6. Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
7. Shape into two loaves; place in two greased 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" bread pans. Cover and let rise in warm place till doubled again (about 30 minutes).
8. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks to pull heat away from the pans and stop the bread from continuing to bake.
We are addicted to roasted chicken and we pretty much have one each week but since there are only two of us we always have left overs. Anyhow, I made the bread to be a vehicle for Agnes's Cilantro Almond Chicken Salad (I interned with Agnes...she's the best! we use lots of her recipes in our household) ; you can find the recipe here! However, those of you who know Dan know that cilantro isn't Dan's favorite herb, so I mellow it out a bit by replacing about 1/3 of the cilantro in the recipe with flat leaf Italian parsley.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
I have discovered that when it comes to bacon I am lazy; I don't want to babysit it in my cast iron pan so I pop them on a foil lined sheet pan with a steel rack and pop it in the oven for 20-25 min at 375F (roughly...if you have thick cut bacon it may take longer; also Dan likes SUPER crispy bacon so I let it go until it's pre-char.
For maple bacon mix some maple syrup (grade B works well here) with a splash of dijon (so that it adheres better and gives a bit of bite); pop the bacon in the oven for 5 minutes to head up a bit and then baste the bacon with the maple/mustard mixture; flip it after 10-15minutes and coat the other side.
I'm a pancake kinda gal myself but Dan (and my mom) love waffles, so on a weekend when we're expecting a hurricane I figure a big brunch of waffles and bacon is fitting...no?
Rich Buttermilk Waffles
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman
->2 cups all-purpose flour
->1/2 teaspoon salt
->2 tablespoons sugar
->1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
->1 3/4 cups buttermilk* or 1 1/2 cups sour cream or plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk
->2 eggs, separated
->4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled)
->1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
->can of Product of Arthur Meyerhoff (aka PAM...yes that is what it really stands for)
1. Combine the dry ingredients. Mix together the buttermilk, sour cream and egg yolks. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla bean paste; you can use vanilla extract of course...I just like the flecks of vanilla bean that the paste gives.
2. Spray your waffle iron with PAM. Heat iron according to manufacturers directions.
3. Return to your batter; stir the wet into the dry ingredients.
4. Beat the egg whites with the whisk or electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. (NOTE: a trick to get the best foam from your egg whites 1. make sure the whites are at room temp. 2. make sure that you use a super clean bowl...even a trace of yolk will coat the proteins in the whites and prevent them from foaming properly.
5. Fold gently into the batter.
6. Ladle batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the style of iron.
7. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.
* NOTE: The buttermilk can be substituted with 1 1/4 cups of milk at room temperature, mixed with two tablespoons white vinegar, left to clabber for 10 minutes; however, this will not be as good as buttermilk. I'm not talking about "cultured buttermilk" that you often find at the local wal-mart...true buttermilk made from the milk left over from the production of butter (Kate's brand is available here in the NE) just fyi...put it on your list to add to your fridge...it pretty much lasts A WHILE due to the acid content.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
These next two shots are for Court; G planted Japanese tree peonies all around the house and they are currently in bloom. I wanted to take a few quick shots before it rains here and destroys them.
We have our first berry starting to ripen; Dan and I have been carefully watching it waiting until it is fully ripe and ready to pick. G has a whole strawberry patch behind our house so there are plenty more berries to be had, though we do take great pride in our little plant.
Dan and G worked in the garden last weekend; mostly getting rid of most of the large weeds before they till the rest of it under this weekend (when things dry out a bit). We have had rain on and off; it is currently super humid but we are supposed to have a cold front coming through tonight.
If you are wondering if I just took pictures while Dan and G worked, the answer is yes, yes I did. We have a small plot of land allotted for our use by the corner of our deck and I've been working on this little plot trying to improve the soil so that it will be in good shape for next season. I feel no remorse for not helping with the large plot...I was tired!
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Agnes Devereux from the Village Tea Room in New Paltz is my dinnertime hero when it comes to feeding Dan. Her first blog post was for her famous Roast Chicken; I have made this three times now and every time it comes out perfectly. Tonight I was a bit lazy and didn't make the accompanying gravy, just the chicken. I'm using the leftovers to make her chicken salad...more on that later...almond, cilantro, lime...sounds crazy but it's delicious!
The second recipe of hers that I've used is her mashed potatoes; are they healthy...absolutely not...are they the best mashed potatoes that you have ever had...YES!
Needless to say, Agnes' roast chicken and mashed potatoes have become our Sunday night supper staples so if you are coming to visit us on a weekend you can expect to find this dynamic duo.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Also, there is a guy that I work with who helps manage a local organic farm, so next month I'll start helping them on the farm for more hands on learning.
Above is our strawberry plant; I didn't expect the lovely white flowers that are on the plant, quite lovely.
We were told by our local gardening center to plant our mint in its own container; this is apple mint but I think that we may also plant spearmint as well.
Next is fennel; I just started using fennel this year (thanks to Agnes, who showed me how to prepare it properly).
Above we planted parsley, cilantro and dill; I have no idea if these are compatible, we just crossed our fingers and we are hoping for the best. I have since been looking at our local library for a good container gardening guide for some help!
Our final pot contains sage, thyme and rosemary; we fully expect to have to re-pot these babies as they grow for I know rosemary along can grow to be rather large. I am assuming that plants, like goldfish, grow according to the size of their container...we'll see...if you know otherwise, please let me know!
G has done a great job with the landscape around the house; the beds are full of daffodils and tulips and the property is full of lovely flowering trees. Dan and I are in awe of the wonderful fragrances that we are greeted with every morning.
We spend most evenings on the deck or on the swings just breathing in the fresh air.
If we move back south I will miss Spring and Fall up here in the north.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
When Dan arrived home he came bearing a new Lambie; (Lambie is Remi's favorite toy, we have been through four I believe).
However,when Remi received his new Lambie I noticed that he kept one in the living room and one in the bedroom (downstairs no less); one is shiny and new and the other has patches of missing fur.
I was instantly reminded of the TV show "Upstairs Downstairs" and in honor of the PBS program, I thought a little Lambie photo shoot was in order. (PBS Masterpiece collection recently did three 60 minute episodes of a new version of Upstairs Downstairs a classic hit from the 1970s. My boss, who grew up watching the original in Ireland, told me about the series and I subsequently watched all three new episodes and now want the boxed set of the new and old for those who are looking for a good birthday present for me ;P)
Dan commented that I clearly have settled into the mostly unemployed life when I am photographing Remi's toys...I think it just shows my vast creativity...or maybe I just have too much time on my hands.
For those of you who have not seen the show (or who don't want to follow the link to read more about it...I know who you are) it is set in the 1930's and it is a drama about the wealthy and the hired help (to be blunt).
As droll as it may seem, we have upstairs and downstairs Lambies in our house and I just wanted to document such for my own amusement. Aunt B is likely rolling her eyes at this point but I'm okay with that, I have quite accepted my own ridiculousness!
(In case you were not able to discern a difference the top photo is "upstairs" Lambie and the two bottom photos are of "downstairs" Lambie; I found "downstairs" Lambie on the the floor one morning by the window...hence the second photo, he posed for the third.)
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Dan and I went up to PA to Aunt B's for Easter for what has become our Easter tradition these past four years. We only have one little one in our family (above); miss O and Aunt Peggy hid 86 eggs for her in the back yard to find! Needless to say, miss O was beyond pumped to get these eggs.
One cool thing that Aunt Peggy does though is that she puts quarters in the eggs instead of candy (since miss O gets plenty of candy in her Easter basket). It's a great little nest egg for miss O's future.
The above pic was from three years ago when I helped out at the last Bush White House Easter Egg Roll :)
One great thing about living in the country is farm eggs. I had read about eggs from hens who get to truly roam free, how their yolks are a beautiful deep gold, but I had never actually seen one for myself. The owner of the restaurant where I intern told me that there are lots of folks around here with chickens and that you can usually inquire about them from a farm stand.
I was at the health food store in Rhinebeck (I went because my friend at Bread Alone said I should check them out) and it turns out that one of the guys who works at the store, his family raises hens and his little brother is now responsible for gathering the eggs and creating the labels (see photo above).
Anyhow, they are beautiful eggs; I almost brought a dozen for Aunt B because I am just in awe of them; now I want a hen, but until then I'll keep buying "rainbow eggs" instead :P
Thursday, April 14, 2011
The food was okay, better than most buffet food, nothing to write home about but good enough that I'd be happy to go back to at least enjoy the atmosphere. We ordered blood orange mimosas to start before heading to the buffet.
The "food" item I most enjoyed was actually the beautiful coffee bar; I had two cups of Joe...with whipped cream of course :)
On the Menu:
-Romaine, Spinach, Hard boiled Egg, Candied Pecans, Tomato tossed in Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette
-House made Mini Biscuits, Sausage Gravy
-Three Cheese & Pimento Mac ‘n’ Cheese
-Southern Style Creamed Corn
-Pecan Crusted Trout
-Southern Fried Chicken
-Roasted Tomato, Havarti & Mushroom Casserole
-Carving Station: Maple Glazed Ham
-Dessert: Banana Pudding Trifle, Mini Key Lime Tarts and Cheesecakes, Chocolate Covered Strawberries (dessert by far was the most disappointing; banquet food at its worst.)
We then headed downstairs for a tasting. This was much better than I had expected; we did the standard tasting verses their more pricey estate tasting, but I was not disappointed by any of the wines and in fact wished that state law allowed me to bring a few bottles home with me!
We meandered inside and out for our tasting; taking our time so as to not be tipsy for the ride home.
After we finished we decided to stroll through the vines and take in the views. If the weather was right it would make a perfect spot for an outdoor wedding.
I was trying to be sneaky and get a shot of Kristen without being caught but I was busted!
We could have spent hours lounging on the decks, listening to the bluegrass and enjoying the gentle breezes; this was the south at its best, but alas we had to return to reality and head back to the city, but it sure was a great day.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Dan surprised me by taking the day off from work (since it fell on a Tuesday this year). I still had to work at my internship in the morning but I was finished by 1pm. When I came home there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a NEW COMPUTER waiting for me.
Can you tell that I was excited...I was excited...thrilled in fact. I have been wanting a macbook for quite some time and my wonderful hubby surprised me with the perfect gift (with a little help from my in-laws...thanks guys!!) Therefore, now you can expect more frequent posts, because I no longer have any excuses!
We then went out for lunch and proceeded to take a hike over the Hudson. We had been wanting to go but just never got around to it until now.
When we returned home to get ready for dinner we took Remi out and then he threw up and wouldn't stop throwing up. Dan and I were worried about him, and at this point it was around 7pm so we too him to the emergency vet where they found that he had a bacterial infection.
They gave him fluids and antibiotics and he fell asleep in my arms on the way home. (As a note he is fine now; once the antibiotics kicked in he felt much better). Though our anniversary didn't turn out as we had planned, it was still a great day.
My parents are celebrating their 31st and my grandparents celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary this year; I'm hoping we'll at least match grandma and grandpa :)
Sunday, April 10, 2011
We decided months ago that we would go to Woodfire Grill on Saturday night; Ana made reservations and in true AB fashion we had basically a private loft to ourselves (this gal makes things happen for those who don't know her!)
We started our evening off with cocktails, of course; they are (in order of photo) the farmer's daughter, sage against the machine and the botanical garden. They were all delicious, but it seemed that the botanical garden seemed to be the favorite. According to the menu it contained square one botanical vodka. pear liqueur.lavender syrup. lemon juice. rock candy syrup
As a table, we all decided to partake in the 5-course blind tasting menu. Basically, you let your waitress know if you have any food allergies or strong aversions and then they surprise you course by course. They also have wine pairings per course if you so desire.
We started with an amuse bouche, seen below; it was a marinated golden raisin atop an almond aioli with micro greens on top (if I remember correctly; I should have written everything down...erg!)
Ana & Jenifer held my cocktail for the toast (since I cannot toast and depress the shutter at the same time, sorry, I'm not that talented yet!)
Ana is a vegetarian and Ang is preggers so I'll basically be showing two dishes per course. The Omnivore's received a salmon tartar atop potato salad; the Veg course was microplaned radish with creme fraise, micro greens and chive.
Second omni course was a diver scallop with a tomato chutney; veg was a stuffed cabbage leaf with mustard sauce (Ana said that was probably her favorite dish of the night)
Intermission we had a cold potato soup; this was probably my least favorite of the night, however, I have never been a big fan of cold soups in general. It had a nice flavor but I could only really pick up sour cream in it unfortunately.
Third course; I'm mixing it up, keeping you on your toes! Veg course was spring pea risotto--YUM--I would love to have a big bowl of this for dinner sometime! Omni course was quail and pork belly over barley (how could you go wrong here!)
Fourth course: Veg was a roasted mushroom with frisse salad and pickled yellow tomato relish. Omni was bison with pickled onion.
Last course: dessert. As a point I have been trying to make sure and order dessert at good restaurants, because if it is worth its weight, they usually have a good pastry chef. I suppose that it is also a bit of comraderie; making sure that my peeps have good jobs!
Anyhow, veg dish was a strawberry sorbet over a semifredo with strawberry and pistachio coulis; Omni was what they called chocolate bread pudding with a coffee ice cream--very rich but delicious--good job Brittany(a CIA grad...naturally!) The bread she makes for the restaurant was also phenomenal; truly, K would approve, which is saying something because she's picky!